Theological Education in the Digital Age


Prof. Carrie Doehring
I-302, ext. 169

Prof. Mark K. George
I-110, ext, 168

Course Description
Undertaking theological education in the 21 st century is an opportunity rich with possibilities. Learning via digital platforms offers the opportunity to experience and understand in new ways what it means to think and reflect theologically on a host of issues, including religions in the world, the study of Bible, pastoral care, Christian history, social justice, and preaching. It also requires consideration of what it means to be in community and act with integrity in the digital age. These are some of the issues we will consider this term as we seek to enter into the adventure of theological education.

Course Learning Goals

  1. Students demonstrate critical reading skills, such as the capacity to identify the thesis of a text, its methodology, the contextual situation of the author’s argument in a larger discourse, the contours of its argument, and the implications of its constructive work;
  2. Students demonstrate the capacity to write a short, thesis-driven paper drawing on textual resources with appropriate academic citation and a writing style appropriate to the genre;
  3. Students are able to identify appropriate academic resources through library research in order to address a research question of significance to them;
  4. Students engage in critical, respectful, and constructive academic dialogue and reflection in a diverse cultural setting (hybrid discussion spaces and on-campus settings).

  1. Regular participation in online discussions and the intensive on-campus sessions during the 5th week of the quarter. Online class discussion is our primary means of learning together and therefore an integral and important part of class. Each student is expected to post by the stated deadlines and to do so having read the required materials for the week. We think the readings generally reflect the types of reading you will encounter in your Iliff courses, so practice your critical reading skills with them. What we mean by this is, as you read, engage them with a critical and analytical perspective: what is the central argument being made, how is it being made, what evidence is cited to support it, and what is at stake in making it. Critical reading and engagement with other scholars and their perspectives is a skill, one we are trying to improve during this course. When you finish reading an essay, article, or portion of a book, make sure you understand the argument being made by stating the central thesis in your own words and explaining how the argument and evidence provided support it. Then turn to its strengths and weaknesses and questions you have about it. If you can do this and summarize the argument in your own words, then you probably understand it.
  2. Online discussions. In weeks 1–4 there are three discussions each week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.
    1. Your Tuesday contribution centers around a spiritual practice. See the explanation of this weekly assignment in Wk 1: Introduction--Spiritual Practice.
    2. Your Wednesday contribution begins our discussion of the week’s readings and topic. We expect students to do all the assigned reading and listen to the presentation for the week before making this discussion entry. Presentations by the professors will be relatively short, 20 minutes or so, and are intended to note particular ideas and issues for your consideration as you read and reflect on the week’s materials. Please read the assigned materials carefully and critically, ensuring your understand the main idea or claim of each reading so that you can explain why it is important for our conversation, as explained above in the “Regular participation” requirement. This way of reading involves careful listening to the author so that you can enter into an informed conversation with that scholar. If you can state the author’s central idea and outline of the argument using your own words, then consider what sort of conversation you would have with that scholar, why, and on what grounds. Scholarship is, at its best, a conversation, so try to have one with these scholars and others in this class. A primary goal for your Wednesday contribution (starting in week 2) is to share with the rest of the class your conversation for the week with the scholars and materials encountered through the assignments. What are the 2–3 primary issues, questions, topics, or ideas you have for the week as part of that conversation? It also is appropriate to say you don’t understand a reading (or all of them, as the case might be), although saying this is only the first step. Do your level best to explain what it is you don’t understand or why you don’t understand what you read. In other words, diagnose your confusion or question by determining what you do not understand or was the point at which you got lost in the argument. Ask clarifying questions so that others of us can offer explanations so you can become more involved in our conversation for the week. As a final request, please don’t write a paper for us, but share, in maybe 2-3 paragraphs (short to medium length), your voice in the conversation (please do not write more than one page; remember, we have more opportunities to engage one another and the materials through the course of the week). Each week the professors will provide a few questions designed to help crystalize your thinking about the readings and focus it on the topic for the week. These questions may help you get started by giving you a way of entering into conversation with the readings and week’s topic. You do not need to respond to these questions, nor address all of them, especially if your conversation has gone in a different direction. Critical engagement with the readings is the important skill to learn and to share.
    3. Your Fridaycontribution is a short response to at least two or three other students on their Wednesday contribution (please do not feel obligated to respond to everyone each week). Given the size of our class, please try to balance your conversations over the course of the term so you speak to new people each week, and please consider responding to someone else during the week who has yet to have a response. By a “short” response, we are looking for a couple or few sentences. In other words, don’t type a long statement, but make a few pertinent comments to help advance an idea someone else noted, answer a question that was raised, note how something helped you advance your own thinking, raise a new question, tie together comments made by two or more students in the course, and so on. Use this day to help draw out insights, challenging ideas, themes, offer your understanding of a reading or argument being made in the readings, and other aspects of our collective conversation that are of interest to you. You might, for example, be creative and noodle around with the rest of us how something another person contributed helps you think anew about a comment or idea you noted for the week—or from a previous week. We can move backwards across the weeks of the course. You also may draw in ideas, theologies, critical perspectives, and other things you learn from other courses, but be clear and succinct, since we want to keep each contribution for the day short (even if you make several such contributions to our class conversation). Our goal is to have a scholarly conversation about the week’s materials and what we are learning, what challenges us, what possibilities we see, and so on.
    4. The Wednesday and Friday contributions and discussion are graded as two parts of one weekly assignment. A letter grade, in the form of points, is assigned for both days combined, although “Complete/Incomplete” will appear in the Canvas gradebook for the Friday conversation (there is no other way for us to have this part of the conversation appear in the calendar as a reminder).
  3. Post-Gathering Days Online Discussions. For our work after Gathering Days, the focus will be on researching and writing the final paper assignment. Thus, in weeks 6–9 our discussions will be tailored toward that work.
    1. Your Tuesday contribution continues our work on spiritual practice.
    2. Your Wednesday contribution varies each week, and therefore the specific assignment is provided in the Wednesday contribution discussion assignment each week.
  4. Short writing assignment. Each student will write two (2) short responses to readings from this course. These responses are to be no more than 500 words, about a page and a half to two pages typed, double-spaced, 12 point font, with one inch margins on all sides. Each response is to be uploaded to the appropriate place on the course Canvas site. For other style matters, please follow either The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (use your Iliff library log-in credentials for access), or APA (American Psychological Association) 6th edition style.
    1. Students may select one of the assigned readings listed for weeks 1–4 in the schedule as the basis for each response. No more than one reading from a week may be selected—in other words, you must select readings from different weeks for your responses. This enables the professors time to read and respond to your first response before you submit your second response.
    2. Each response is to be written like a short critical review in which you state the author’s thesis or central argument in your own words and then provide a brief review of how this argument is made. Following this restatement and summary of the argument, note questions that remain for you, other evidence the author might have cited or discussed, implications of the reading for the topic discussed by the author, or criticism(s) of the logic or evidence used by the author.
    3. The goal of this assignment is to develop your critical reading and writing skills. Scholarship is a conversation that requires careful listening for what others say and to make sure we understand what others are saying before we engage with their arguments critically. Read all the assigned readings slowly and carefully enough to identify the central claim or argument of each reading and how the author provides evidence in support of it. For example, what sort of data is cited and how is it used? Is the author in conversation with others (this might be specific scholars but also might be schools of thought, assumptions, ideological positions, and the like)?
    4. We offer this piece of advice about these short assignments: they are more challenging to write than you might expect because, despite being short, they require a good deal of analysis. Please start early and give yourself plenty of time to complete each one. We are looking to see if you have identified the central argument and how the it is developed in the reading, as well as for proper graduate school format, spelling, expression, punctuation, and grammar.
    1. Final paper assignment. Each student will write a final paper of 1800–2400 words, about 6–8 pages on a topic of their choice related to this course. The due date for these papers is Thursday, 15 November 2018, no later than 11:45 p.m. MST on the course site on Canvas. Papers are to be typed, double-spaced, using a 12 point font, with one inch margins on all sides. Footnotes are to be used unless APA style is followed. Please use either CMS or APA style guidelines for formatting, bibliographies, citation matters, and all other style questions. This project involves a series of steps over weeks 5–10
      1. Week 5 (during our Gathering Days sessions): Initial work on final paper projects. During our work together on campus this week we will begin the final paper project. This includes presentations by Dr. Micah Saxton, of Taylor Library, and Dr. Jeremy Garber, of the Iliff Writing Lab. Their presentations will help us learn about online resources and research as well as writing assistance provided through the Writing Lab. We also will review steps for starting a research project, how to select a topic and begin working out a thesis, and other aspects of the project and how to undertake this work.
      2. Week 6: Bibliographic Research. Building on the work we do in week 5 on campus, each student is to work on bibliographic research using the tools we learned during week 5. There is no written requirement in Week 6.
      3. Week 7: Paper Outlines and Annotated Bibliographies. Students will develop a thesis statement for their final paper project indicating the overall argument they will make. These statements should be one sentence in length, about 25–30 words, indicating the claim or point to be made in the paper. An outline of the paper and how the thesis will be organized in order to make the required argument to support or prove the thesis also is to be included. The outline should note section headings and provide short descriptions (ca. 1 sentence) explaining each one. The annotated bibliography is to provide representative scholarly books, articles, and other appropriate resources directly related to the thesis and outline. Minimally there should be 6 items in the bibliography at this stage of the project. Each entry in the bibliography is to include a short (2–3 sentence) description of the entry’s central argument. This project is intended to advance your research skills and abilities with online resources as well as to expand your knowledge about current scholarship on your topic. The paper outline and annotated bibliography is to be typed, using 1 inch margins, 12 point font, and other style guidelines typically expected of graduate school written work.
      4. Week 8: Revised Theses and Outlines. Using feedback from the professors, students are to revise their thesis statement, paper outline, and add to their bibliography for the paper. These revised documents will be shared in small groups. Group members are expected to read each one of the documents provided by other students in the group and provide constructive criticism to each student as to how the outline might be strengthened and improved. Learning how to read the work of other students and offer constructive criticism for improvement of that work is a skill that helps each of us learn about the craft of writing. Helping others improve their work also helps us become better writers in our own work.
      5. Week 9: Writing Drafts. This week’s work is focused on writing drafts of the final paper. The lack of a required discussion this week is designed to provide maximal time for writing, including time to submit draft(s) to the Writing Lab staff in order to have feedback on drafts and improve them.
      6. Week 10: Final papers are due as per the deadline listed above.

Degree Learning Goals: Please take some time to look over the Professional Degree Learning Goals (MDiv, MASC, MAPSC) and the Academic Degree Learning Goals (MTS, MA).

Late work: Please note that late work is unacceptable for this course. Our conversations and discussions depend on your participation by the assigned due dates and times. Work submitted late is graded down one full letter grade (i.e., ten [10] points on a 100 point scale) for every 24 hour period it is late during the first 48 hours. After 48 hours, late work is graded a zero (0). If you experience a family or medical emergency that could interfere with meeting a deadline, please let the professors know by email as soon as possible. It also is advisable to contact your academic advisor in such circumstances.

Incompletes: Incompletes are granted only in the rarest of cases and situations, such as a death in the family. If the professors agree to grant an incomplete, then the policies and procedures specified in the Master's Student Handbook will be followed.

Pass/Fail:  Masters students wishing to take the class pass/fail must email both of the professors (, no later than Friday evening, 14 September 2018, stating their request. One of the professors will provide an email response confirming or denying the request after they confer about the requests they receive.

Academic Integrity and Community Covenant:  All students are expected to abide by Iliff’s statement on Academic Integrity, as published in the Masters Student Handbook, or the Joint PhD Statement on Academic Honesty, as published in the Joint PhD Student Handbook, as appropriate. All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Community Covenant.

Core ValuesAs a community, Iliff strives to live by this set of Core Values.

Accommodations:  Iliff engages in a collaborative effort with students with disabilities to reasonably accommodate student needs. Students are encouraged to contact their assigned advisor to initiate the process of requesting accommodations. The advising center can be contacted at or by phone at 303-765-1146.

Writing Lab:  Grammar and organization are important for all written assignments. Additional help is available from the Iliff Writing Lab, which is available for students of any level who need help beginning an assignment, organizing thoughts, or reviewing a final draft.

Inclusive Language:  It is expected that all course participants will use inclusive language in speaking and writing, and will use terms that do not create barriers to classroom community.

All assignments contribute toward the final course grade according to the following weightings:

Grade Scale

A.................... 94–100

A-................... 91–93

B+.................. 88–90 (NB: a 90 is a B+)

B..................... 83–87

B-................... 80–82

C+.................. 78–79

C..................... 73–77

C-................... 70–72

D+................. 68–69

D.................... 60–67

F...................... 59 or below

This is a page anyone can edit, in order to share resources.

What is a thesis statement-Kinnard.pdf

What is Academic Writing TheolEdDigAge 12oct2018 .pptx

Some resources from Mark: Books shown in class and a couple of his articles
Books (in no particular order):

A couple of Mark's articles, since some of you asked:
George, Mark K. "The Sabbath, Regimes of Truth, and the Subjectivity of Ancient Israel." Journal of Religion and Society: Supplement Series 13 (2016): 5-21. An abstract of the article is on the first page.

George, Mark . "Watch Your Step! Excrement and Governmentality in Deuteronomy.Biblical Interpretation 26, no. 3 (2018): 291-315. An abstract of the article is on the first page. Please do not distribute this article to others who are not in this class, since it currently is under restricted access by the journal, which means others must purchase access to the journal and article or use their institution's license to access it.


Sign-Up Page Instructions: During journey week, reach out to find two peers with whom you would like to share the drafts of your final assignments.  Use this Sign-Up Page Instructions to identify who your partners are. Make sure you then hit "save" at the bottom and double check that your names are now listed. 


Mary Brandt + Geoffrey Gross + Alison Massey

Jose Luis Marantes, Murph Murphy, Amelia Romo Olivas

Kristin Famula, Nikki Norris, Maurine Nichols

Janice Driggers, Giselle Jackman, Jenn McCullough

Holly, Kyndyl & Conor

Courtney VonLindern, Andrew Gamblin, Collis Floyd

Max Christopher, Jesse O'Neal, Colin Donovan

Karen Harder - Katherine Daniels - David Dashifen Kees - Christina Fleming

All parts of the syllabus are subject to review and revision at any time at the sole discretion of the professors.

Sep 12, 2018WedWk 1: Introduction--Spiritual Practice due by 05:45AM
Sep 13, 2018ThuWk 1 Introductions--Conversationsdue by 05:45AM
Sep 15, 2018SatWK 1 Introductions--Discussionsdue by 05:45AM
Sep 15, 2018SatWk 1: Q & A page for issues pertaining the the syllabus or coursedue by 05:45AM
Sep 19, 2018WedWk 2 Pastoral Care in the Digital Age--Spiritual Practicedue by 05:45AM
Sep 20, 2018ThuWk 2 Pastoral Care in the Digital Age--Conversationsdue by 05:45AM
Sep 22, 2018SatWk 2 Pastoral Care in the Digital Age--Discussionsdue by 05:45AM
Sep 26, 2018WedWk 3 Bible in the Digital Age--Spiritual Practice OPTIONAL FORUMdue by 05:45AM
Sep 27, 2018ThuWk 3 Bible in the Digital Age--Conversationsdue by 05:45AM
Sep 27, 2018ThuShort writing assignment #1due by 05:45AM
Sep 29, 2018SatWk 3 Bible in the Digital Age--Discussionsdue by 05:45AM
Oct 03, 2018WedWk 4 Theology in the Digital Age--Spiritual Practicedue by 05:45AM
Oct 04, 2018ThuWk 4 Theology in the Digital Age--Conversationsdue by 05:45AM
Oct 04, 2018ThuShort writing assignment #2due by 05:45AM
Oct 06, 2018SatWk 4 Theology in the Digital Age--Discussionsdue by 05:45AM
Oct 17, 2018WedWk 6 Paper Research: Bibliographic Research--Spiritual Practicedue by 05:45AM
Oct 18, 2018ThuWk 6 Paper Research: Bibliographic Research--Small Group Collaboration and Help due by 05:45AM
Oct 24, 2018WedWk 7 Spiritual Practices Discussion (optional)due by 05:45AM
Oct 25, 2018ThuWk 7 Paper Research: Paper Outlines and Annotated Bibliographies--Draft due to Professorsdue by 05:45AM
Oct 25, 2018ThuWk 7 Paper Research: Draft outlines due for Professors--Submission Pagedue by 05:45AM
Oct 28, 2018SunGeneral Discussion pagedue by 05:45AM
Oct 31, 2018WedWk 8 Spiritual Practices Discussion (optional)due by 05:45AM
Nov 01, 2018ThuWk 8 Paper Research: Revised Theses and Outlines--Peer reviewsdue by 05:45AM
Nov 03, 2018SatWk 8 Paper Research: Revised Theses and Outlines--Peer reviews duedue by 05:45AM
Nov 07, 2018WedWk 9 Spiritual Practices Discussion (optional)due by 06:45AM
Nov 08, 2018ThuWk 9 Paper Research: Writing Drafts--Writing Weekdue by 06:45AM
Nov 14, 2018WedWk 10 Spiritual Practices Discussion (optional)due by 06:45AM
Nov 16, 2018FriWk 10 Paper Research: Final Papers duedue by 06:45AM
Nov 16, 2018FriGeneral Q & A pagedue by 06:45AM
Nov 16, 2018FriWk 10 Paper Research: Final Papers due--Submission Pagedue by 06:45AM